As both LTE deployment and upgrades to HSPA/HSPA+ technologies gather pace around the world, average advertised maximum download speeds for mobile broadband are growing. As of March 2012, based on almost 3,000 plans from 113 operators across 33 countries in Strategy Analytics' Mobile Broadband Price Benchmarking Service, average maximum speeds reached in excess of 14 Mbps, a rise of over 13% since December 2011, while over 730 plans - almost a quarter of the total - have maximum advertised download speeds of 21 Mbps and above. It is debatable how many users actually achieve these speeds, of course, and mobile broadband is unlikely to be a substitute for fixed broadband any time soon, in most markets at least. Given this steady rise, however, it is increasingly a viable complement to fixed services. This uplift in speed has been accompanied by an 8% increase in average allowances, which reached 8.3 GB by Q1 2012.
As we would expect, postpaid plans are typically cheaper than prepaid - for some usage levels, up to a third cheaper. Naturally, the balance here is the ongoing commitment required by postpaid plans.
A more detailed analysis of how mobile broadband charges are evolving is available for free download.